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Thursday, Apr. 25, 2002
Double entries two days in a row! What, you were looking for stuff like this?

A couple of days ago, Stu and I were doing what Stu and I usually do at 7:10 am in the morning. Driving the mighty flagship of the corporate fleet through his neighborhood.

Seeing as how he lives in his neighborhood, and keeps said flagship in his driveway, and that I frequently park in front of his house for the convenience (mine) and the reduction of travel mileage (his), this should not be too awfully surprising.

What was surprising is what we saw on the way. A young girl, I'm talking 12 or so, in handcuffs, being led from her home to the rear of a squad car by two very healthy police officers. One of who had a pair of Nike's in his hand. Stu and I looked at each other, both being parents, and pretty much simultaneously mouthed "what the hell" incantations as we witnessed the scene. Stolen Nike's? 12 year old in cuffs?

That's seriously a bad way to start the morning, folks. Any or all of you who are parents know what I mean. Maybe even the non-parents among you. Just flat out awful. To see someone young in handcuffs. And in tears. Lord, there's some evilness afoot when they start loading pre-teens into squad cars. How bad are we getting, as parents, that such a thing is possible?

Part of the reason that my New Orleans trip went South (non-geographical reference, bear with me) is that Eldest Daughter Beth had made plans to travel on Friday, to pick up her Bestest college pal in North Carolina, bring her back to the Motherland and set her up in a Youth Hostel for the duration of the summer. Well, only kidding about the hostel. She'll be spending the summer at Ally's sister's house or here, depending on the time of day. And playing traveling tournament softball with Eldest at every available opportunity.

And guess what.

Depositing a 17 year old Eldest Daughter into a $36 thousand dollar car (ours) instead of a $700 car (hers) to drive a 600 mile round trip is a no win decision. Let's see. We let her take the Expedition (that would be the $36k one, if you were wondering) and drive that for 12 hours or so. On the Interstate. 70 miles an hour. By herself.

Or, we let her take her car and drive 12 hours on Interstate at 70 miles an hour. Which I doubt that her Toyota could do. Downhill. With a tailwind and drafting help from your average 18-wheeler with a No-Doze crisis. Yeah. That would certainly put me in a relaxed state of mind. Not even taking into account that a 1984 Toyota with asthma and an empowerment issue might not even make it that far.

So. What to do? Well, gee, welcome to the wonderful world of teenaged parenthood.

It was so much easier when they were small. Back then, travel plans advanced by the child might include a jaunt around the block via bicycle. With parent languishing somewhat laboriously in the rear. But in terms of relative outlay of time and cash, not too considerable.

Now we speak in terms of credit cards and trip planner software. Interstate restaurants and a proper selection of CD's for the car. Cell phones which blank out in the middle of nowhere, which, naturally, are the places that she will blow out a tire and careen gracefully through the stand of southern yellow pine trees and explode in a dazzling display of petroleum based pyrotechnics. Probably wouldn't need a cell phone at that point, anyway. Such are the thought processes of a parent in these situations.

That, or the picture of a daughter in handcuffs. For whatever reason. She has never given me pause to think that she would be. You just, you know, think of stuff like that. Silly parents. We do things that only an insane person or a martyr would do.

I guess that's part of the definition. Parent. Noun. Shortened form of Pay-Rent. Spelled sideways it's Aren't-Payed. How do I get to the financial side of all these little diversions?


I held up my hand like a good scout and volunteered to drive her on the 600 mile round trip. On a Friday, most likely in rain, to the college where Bestest buddy is at this moment packed and ready to get the hell outta Dodge, it being the end of her year and all. And having an agenda, Eldest elected to do this at the particular time and moment that Bestest would be at the precise moment of release from college, and just slightly after an afternoon game of Eldest softball when she is at her most smelliest and surly, all the better to further entertain good ol' Pops as he steers his way into Tarheel country. That'd be North Carolina, for those of you in less afflicted portions of the nation.

I expect that those of you in more mundane situations (read, childless) will be willing to offer vast amounts of sympathy for my plight.

Go ahead. I'm still in the pity line for that New Orleans vacation mishap.

I certainly wouldn't want to stop you.

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